The Dynasty of Poly Sports

Jesse Cavaliero, Contributing Writer

School of Champions

On a cold November night in 2022, two champions were crowned. One at Fieldston High School in Riverdale, Bronx, and the other at Field 10 on Randall’s Island, Manhattan. At Fieldston, Poly Prep Girls’ Varsity Volleyball beat Avenues in three sets and became state champions. On Randall’s Island, Poly Prep Girls’ Varsity Soccer beat Packer in extra time. Both matches were packed with fans. Every student had the option that day to attend the Girls’ Soccer or Girls’ Volleyball game. After the volleyball game ended early, that group migrated to the soccer match, effectively doubling spectators. The following day, November 8, a video was sent around Poly of the fans from the soccer game rushing the field. It displayed screaming, crying, and a mass of students jumping with joy and celebration. The following weekend on Sunday, November 13, Poly Football capped off its undefeated season with a win in Connecticut against Rye Country Day School. They were 8-0 entering into the contest, after not having trailed a game this season. The final score was 42-6 which seemed normal for the team as they had an average win margin of over 34. Despite the match being held two hours from Dyker Heights and only 15 minutes from Rye New York, the fan populations were equal. But Poly undoubtedly won when it came to noise level. Boys’ Football and Girls’ Soccer had first-year coaches leading their units. Two nights, three teams, one school, all champions. But, how long has this tradition of winning been going on and what are its origins?


Poly Has The Space That Others Don’t

Located in Dyker Heights with a 26-acre campus, Poly is one of the few schools in New York City with the space to have its own fields on campus. For the majority of sports Poly competes in the Ivy League with Collegiate, Dalton, Hackley, Fieldston, Horace Mann, Riverdale, and Trinity. Of the eight other competitors, four schools have the room to host almost every sport, these being: ourselves, Fieldston, Horace Mann, and Riverdale. The fourth school, Hackley, is not in New York City, it resides just above Manhattan in Tarrytown. According to Poly’s website, there are 60 current collegiate athletes that attended Poly for high school spanning across 13 sports. That means out of the 26 varsity sports at Poly, half of them have sent athletes to play at the collegiate level since the graduating class of 2019.


The History of the Dynasty

Derrick Ades, class of 1985, played three varsity sports during his five years at Poly. “Back in the day, the ethos was the concept of the scholar athlete. You excelled academically and excelled in sports. You had to do both well. And that was considered to be sort of a rounded education, one reinforces the other. ” Ades said.

Bart Moroney has been teaching at Poly for 42 years. Moroney was the head track coach for 24 years, and coached many other sports before he turned from coaching to be a full time teacher in the science department. “Sports was one of the reasons I came to Poly in the first place and it was one of the reasons that I stayed. When you’re doing more than one thing in a school, you stay really connected. In the classroom, you have a kid for a year whereas if you’re coaching the kids, you get him for four years straight,” Moroney said.


Facts Behind The Sports

Poly has been a powerhouse school in New York City for some time. Poly football has played Fieldston and Horace Mann a combined six times since 2018 and haswon five times. Girls’ Varsity Soccer won the NYSAIS championship in 2018, 2019, and 2022. Since 2018, Girls’ Varsity Volleyball has only lost one Ivy League game. They have additionally won the NYSAIS championship every year since 2018. Out of the four fall team sports —football, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer — Poly has won championship titles a combined five times in the past three seasons. 

There are three former Olympians who currently work at Poly Prep on the athletics staff: Head of Athletics Richard Corso, Water Polo coach, Athletic Director Kym Carter, high jumper, and Director of Performance Fitness Richard James, 4×400 runner. Poly’s coaches specialize in their unique sport instead of coaching various sports. Bill McNally, director of sports information at Poly, said “I think that while all of our coaches are physical education teachers, I kind of look at them all as like heads of a department and that’s a little bit more of that, I think probably has like a little bit more of a college model.”

Varsity Football Coach Jerell Jones joined the Poly coaching staff at the beginning of the 2022 school year after a long career as a football player and coach. “There are a ton of coaches within Poly that were college athletes themselves.  [The administration] look[s] for coaches that have had that playing experience. And I think that it makes it more credible for the student athletes,” said Jones.

Coach Michael Junsch, Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach and class of 1971 has been on Poly’s staff since 1974. His original goal was to be a college basketball coach, but Junch said working at Poly changed his mind. “I love this school. I really love what it stands for. I think I really love what it teaches. I thought I wanted to be a college basketball coach. But I think the values that we teach here in the school and the lessons learned through sport is really important. I really love the people I work with. I taught some of them, coached some of them. And most importantly, I think we just have great kids,” said Junsch.


The Community

Athletics often create a second family for many high school athletes, including at Poly. “You form really good bonds by playing sports. Those are memories you form in your formative years that you can’t duplicate again in your life. The tightest friends I have in my life are all from my high school class. We had our 30th reunion recently. Out of 92 kids we got 47 kids to physically attend. That’s insane at our age. People flew in. So for me, it’s the relationships and it’s the mental and physical development through the program of scholar athlete” said Ades.

“I love how much the students and other teams get behind each other. I think that’s something that you might see here and not at other schools, but it is really a big thing. The football players will come cheer for the girls soccer team, the girls soccer team will come out and cheer for the boys soccer team or volleyball. And I really like that. I just feel like it’s a very supportive environment,” said McNally.


The Destination

With success comes attention, and with this attention many young athletes with collegiate ambitions look to Poly as the optimal high school choice. “I think so much of the success is led by the coaches, but it takes the kids to fulfill it all. I think that’s why Poly has the success that it has. It becomes a destination, Poly becomes the destination for the strongest student athletes in New York City,” Roventini said.


Audrius Barzdukas, head of school, has a very long history in sports going back to his first job ever as an intern in Colorado Springs doing swim research at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Before becoming the headmaster Barzdukas was the Head of Athletics at Harvard-Westlake in California.


“I think athletics is in the school’s DNA. It’s an organic aspect of our identity…We wouldn’t be the same place without athletics. It’s just part of who we are. And I think that’s a differentiator for our school as people decide that they want to be part of Poly,” said Barzdukas.


Senior Elektra Urbatsch is playing Division I Water Polo at UCLA next year. She arrived at Poly with her heart set on competing at the next level. “I came to Poly freshman year to set myself up best to reach my goal of playing Division I in college. And I found it, with a great support staff and great coaches. I recommend Poly for any kid in New York City who wants to play collegiate sports,” Urbatch said. 


The Future

Poly wins more and more championships every year. However, there are always opportunities for improvement. Senior Zeraun Daniel is committed to play Football at Georgetown University. “As a two-sport athlete, it can be hard to balance athletics and academics because of the frequent class time missed training and competing for sports,” Daniel said. 

“I feel like our best days are ahead of us. People want to be at Poly. Our students are having great options when they leave us. I love the idea. Just tell people, pay attention to what’s happening way out there in Dyker Heights,” Barzdukas said.